St. Louis Public Radio News
1:53 pm
Mon June 14, 2010

Union to Boeing: come back to the table

St. Louis, MO – One month after Boeing workers ended a month-long strike at its Long Beach production plant; aerospace workers in St. Louis are also threatening to walk out.

Union members rejected a contract offering Sunday that would strip fixed benefit pensions from new employees and offer them enhanced 401K's instead.

The strike talks come in the wake of a multi-year procurement to produce over 120 F/A 18 Super Hornets at the St. Louis Plant.

St. Louis Congressman Todd Akin was among those who fought to secure the deal with the Navy. He says any move to jeopardize production should be avoided at all cost.

"We hope that cooler heads will prevail and that people will understand that this is a good set of orders," says Akin. "It's a plane that has to be built; the Navy has a shortage of strike fighters and so this is a job that we just have to get done."

Union officials are giving Boeing until Wednesday to respond to the contract vote. After that, the earliest workers would go on strike would be June 23rd.

State Representative Bert Atkins is a Boeing employee and a union local vice president. He says rejecting the contract is the first step toward further negotiations.

"In a lot of respects we're pretty far apart, we're kind of polar opposites," says Atkins. "Boeing wants to do away with retirement for new employees hired after a certain date. We as a union do not want that."

Atkins says there is still time to reach a deal with Boeing, and that for the most part Boeing and McDonnell Douglas before it, have had good relations with labor.